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October 10, 2009

Texas Tech rolls over Snyder's Wildcats

LUBBOCK, Texas -- Bill Snyder wanted to win the time-of-possession battle on Saturday and failed in his effort, but if only that were the worst of it. Getting blown out 66-14 by Texas Tech while seeing his team surrender 739 yards of total offense was also counterproductive to the gameplan. In some cases, the statistics paint an accurate picture, and what took place this weekend in west Texas was definitely one of those instances.

K-State, now 1-1 in the conference and 3-3 overall, was soundly defeated and dominated in nearly every imaginable statistical category. In addition to being out-gained by a total of 455 offense yards, the Wildcats allowed Red Raiders' junior quarterback Steven Sheffield, who got the call in place of the injured Taylor Potts, to throw for 490 yards and seven touchdowns in his first career start.

Not exactly a banner day for what looked like a drastically overvalued K-State defense.

"I've never seen anything like that in my life," Snyder said following the loss, a game that saw the Red Raiders score more points that any previous Bill Snyder opponent.

"Coach said the loss wasn't just on the defense, it was on everyone," said junior cornerback Joshua Moore, whom the Tech offense seemed to pick on throughout the contest. "That's not how I see it, though. When a defense gives up 66 points it's their fault. I'm very upset about that."

The second half of the contest saw Tech coach Mike Leach's high-octane offense outscore K-State 28-14, but the game appeared to be over well before that. Saturday's game seemed to spin out of control for the Wildcats starting with the Red Raiders scoring just 3:29 into the contest.

Sheffield used the first 30 minutes to set a school record for passing yards in a half, throwing for 370 yards and five scores, scorching the Wildcats' defense systematically and picking apart every part of a group of players that looked to lose confidence with every play.

After converting a fourth down in its own territory, Texas Tech found the end zone on the game's opening drive, as a 52-yard touchdown pass from Sheffield to Tremain Swindall, who dodged a handful of Wildcat defenders on his way to paydirt. The long scoring connection was the cap on a seven-play 71-yard drive that gave the Red Raiders a 7-0 lead, stunned the Wildcat defense and ultimately served as the launching pad for a rocket-fueled blowout.

"I don't know if stunned would exactly be the right word, but we didn't respond to it very well on either side of the ball," Snyder said. "We couldn't move the ball. They could have scored 500 points if the game would have been long enough."

Despite starting its next drive on its own 10-yard line, the Raiders' offense moved the ball at will, picking up large chunks of yards through the air and on ground on a 90-yard return trip across the goal line. It took Tech just eight plays to punch it in, the last of which being a 6-yard pass from Sheffield to redshirt freshman Alex Torres that put the home team up by a pair of touchdowns late in the opening quarter.

The second quarter featured more of the same and could be confused with a replay of the first. And while K-State was able to hold Texas Tech to a field goal on its first possession of the period, by the time the halftime whistle blew, the damage had very much been inflicted, and a 38-0 Red Raider advantage served as undeniable as proof.

In this case, the boxscore did not lie. Nothing about the Wildcats' third loss of 2009 was competitive.

After cracking the scoreboard when senior defensive lineman Jeffrey Fitzgerald returned an interception for a score in the third quarter, K-State's lone offensive touchdown came midway through the fourth, when a 61-yard run from backup tailback Keithen Valentine set up an 8-yard scoring scamper on his next carry.

In the framework of this game, however, the brief flash of life inside from the K-State offense would be enough to light up a footlocker.

Six different Tech wide receivers finished Saturday's contest with at least one touchdown, while seven different options racked up more than 40 yards, a group that included Lewis Detron, who tallied 200 yards and two touchdowns.

K-State quarterback Grant Gregory's second career start didn't pack the feel-good factor of his first as the senior struggled to complete 5 of 8 passes for just 37 yards before being benched and replaced by junior Carson Coffman on the last series of the first half.

Serving in a backup role, Coffman connected on 11 of his 16 attempts and accounted for 131 yards through the air in more than two quarters of work, while tailback Daniel Thomas, who left the game early in the fourth quarter with a leg injury, was held to just 50 yards rushing in the loss.

Following the game, Thomas was allowed to speak with members of the media and appeared healthy, saying he was merely shaken up and held out of the game as a precaution.

The Wildcats will play the first of back-to-back home games next Saturday when they are set to host 3-2 Texas A&M in Manhattan.


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